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Nigerian lawmakers order probe into $18 bln NLNG dividend

Nigerian lawmakers have instructed the country's most senior accountant to investigate payments totalling $18 billion as dividends from Nigeria's investment in Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) between 2004 and 2019, a Senate statement said.

ABUJA, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Nigerian lawmakers have instructed the country's most senior accountant to investigate payments totalling $18 billion as dividends from Nigeria's investment in Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) between 2004 and 2019, a Senate statement said.

NLNG is a consortium between state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Eni ENI.MI, Total TOTF.PA and Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L.

An NLNG spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Senate, parliament's upper house, has ordered the accountant general to investigate the dividend payments, it said in a statement issued on Thursday, without giving details of what wrongdoing, if any, it suspected.

"The accountant general was mandated to investigate among other things if the amount was actually remitted to NNPC, how much was actually remitted to the Federation Account, if there is any deduction by NNPC, how much was deducted and who authorized the deductions," it said in its statement.

The move followed the participation of NLNG officials in a Senate committee hearing on the country's budget plans for 2021 to 2023.

Eyono Fatai–William, NLNG's general manager on external relations, presented a financial summary of the company in which she said it had paid a dividend of over $18 billion to Nigeria from 2004-2019.

Accountant General Ahmed Idris said it was "difficult to determine with any certainty" the details of the dividend paid to NNPC, according to the Senate statement.

The chairman of the committee told Idris to investigate the payments and report back to the Senate in two weeks.

Nigeria's lawmakers have ramped up their scrutiny of financial management issues since President Muhammadu Buhari came to office in 2015 vowing to plug leakages in state coffers.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Alison Williams)

((alexis.akwagyiram@thomsonreuters.com; +234 8188 779 319; Reuters Messaging: alexis.akwagyiram.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net / Twitter: @alexisak))

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